The fast-food meat chain company McDonald’s sued the southwest German city of Tübingen, known for being one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the country, over environmental taxes. In early 2022, Tübingen imposed a new tax (Verpackungssteuer) for any disposable packaging (such as coffee cups, ice cream pots and meal plates) and any disposable cutlery, to help the environment. The idea was that anything single-use had to be more expensive, based on the principle that non-production is better than recycling or disposal in the future. However, McDonald’s sued the city because they disagreed with such a measure, and unfortunately won the first round in March (as it did in the 1990s in the German city of Kassel with a similar case).
Boris Palmer, the city’s mayor, said, “We believe that a city has the right to create such a tax, and even a big company has to accept that. I can’t believe why an international company can’t switch to reusables when all small businesses can do that.” He implemented a policy of mandatory solar PV on rooftops and free Saturday buses, which, among others, it is believed caused a 40% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the city in the last 15 years. The tax measure was welcomed by residents of this university city, many of whom are environmentalists and vegans.
Jenny Bröder, who works at the university, said , “In Tübingen, there are self-governing housing initiatives, where meals and grocery shopping are collectively organised, and are mostly vegan… The people who manage and live in these villas are often politically active, cultivate an awareness of social and ecological issues, and contribute to the cultural scene by organizing concerts, lectures, festivals and parties. The food offered at these events is also usually vegan.” Naresh Taneja, who owns the vegan Indian restaurant Maharaja in Tübingen, said, “I stopped stocking up on disposable plates when the tax was implemented…We were already encouraging our customers to bring their own lunchboxes, and this tax helped even more.” It is not surprising that a company that has a business model based on the exploitation of animals for food, and which has been responsible for the suffering of millions of animals, would not be willing to pay taxes to help the environment, as ‘talking the talk but not walking the walk’ is what greenwashing and veganwashing is about.